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How Much Volunteer Experience Should Be On A Resume

Volunteer Work On A Resume Can Help You Get Noticed So Can Monster

Should You Put Volunteer Work on a Resume?

Volunteer experience can enrich your resume and give you a leg up on the competition, regardless of what stage you’re at in your career. Want to know some other ways you can give your resume a boost? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster’s Resume Writing Service. You’ll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume’s appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter’s first impression. Think of it as Monster’s way of giving back to you.

Use A Separate Section At The End Of Your Resume For Extra And Unrelated Volunteer Experiences

Suppose some of your volunteer work is not related to the industry you’re entering for the first time. In that case, it is helpful to dedicate a separate section at the end of your resume to define different and extra volunteer work history, significantly to help set you apart from other candidates.

For example, suppose you know from your research that the hiring company values workers active in the social justice scene in that case, it might be helpful for them to recognize your work with a specific volunteer organization or programme which champions social justice. Another example is stating that you started volunteering at a particular project and realized the need for a particular career in the community, which led you to decide on your career path.

Don’t Risk Including Too Much Information

If you’ve volunteered with organizations that would reveal information you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to know, consider leaving them off your resume. For example, if you’ve volunteered with religious or political groups, consider listing the skills you amassed rather than highlighting the affiliations of the organizations.

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When To Include Volunteer Experience In Your Resume

While having a volunteer experience section in your resume can be an asset, its not always going to be useful. Theres value in knowing when volunteering can be relevant in improving your chances to get hired and when it can be dead-weight.

Heres our cheat sheet on when to and when not to include volunteer experience in your resume.

DO include volunteer experience if:

  • The company you are applying for emphasizes giving as part of its identity. Employees at VMware, for example, are given volunteer hours which they can use instead of doing standard work.
  • You have recently graduated and have no work experience.
  • You have extra space on your resume or an employment gap.
  • You are applying for an NGO, non-profit, or charity organization.

DONT include volunteer experience in your resume if:

  • The volunteer work is outdated. Volunteer work is awesome, yes, but you want it to be as time-relevant for the recruiter reviewing your application as possible. And experience from a decade ago rarely cuts it.
  • You can fill up your resume with more relevant sections, such as paid work and education. As a rule of thumb, the first thing a recruiter notices in a resume is paid experience and education – volunteering experience is just a nice-to-have extra. This means you shouldnt squeeze in volunteer experience if it means cutting out more important sections from your resume.

How To Describe Volunteer Experience In A Cv Or Job Interview

How to List Volunteer Work Experience on a Resume: Example

Disclaimer: The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

Better education and work opportunities are great reasons to volunteer or intern abroad, as this could give you the upper hand in college or job applications. But, how do you make sure potential colleges or employers know about your experiences?

Mentioning your intern or volunteer work on your resume or during a job interview is important for several reasons. It allows you to fill in the gaps between jobs, or work and study, and demonstrate any key skills learnt. Youll also clearly show your personal commitment to making an impact in the world.

So, how do you make sure youre communicating your experiences in the best way possible to potential employers or colleagues?

Lets find out.

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You Can Broaden Your Networks

When you leave a job, you may lose touch with some of your connections. While you can maintain professional contacts via social media, you may find that those connections arent able to help you professionally. Or, you might be trying to break into a new industry, and you dont know a single soul.

It can be hard to regain lost connections and forge new ones. Volunteering allows youaccess to a new group of fresh contacts that may be able to help you in your old field or start in a brand new one.

Volunteering also helps you create new personal connections. Like-minded people working on the same project or for the same company and cause can have a lot in common. Your volunteer gig could be a way to expand your social circle.

How To Describe Your Resume Work Experience

Of all the sections on a resume, your work experience is one of the most critical and most important.


Your resume work experience says a lot about you. If the hiring manager sees your potential and what youre capable of based on the results youre responsible for in your previous company, that itself can determine the hiring decision.

However, it doesnt just mean youre a qualified candidate

Its a form of proof that shows your skills and expertise are credible.

That insight into your previous job roles and responsibilities will speak for itself. Im sure youve heard the phrase, actions speak louder than words.

Its true.

Highlighting what your achievements or years of experience will leave an impact on your employer. This section alone can be the deciding factor for recruiters to think whether youre worth hiring or not.

Now, you might have less than 1 year of work experience or none at all.

Dont worry, because youre not the only one. Thats why weve also included work experience resume examples for those of you with little to no employment history.

So, be sure you stay until the end!

OR, you can skip this entire guide by using Enhancvs proven resume templates for your job position. You wont have to worry about writers block because you can take inspiration from whats already included and rephrase them however you want!

Its easy and only takes a few minutes!

Also Check: Should You Put A Skills Section On Resume

Why Do You Identify With The Organization

You can list your volunteer work in a resume in a small section along with any awards or certifications you may have! Unlike the work experience section, I dont care much about the results of your actions. Instead, I would include more information about why you partner with that organization and why you identify with its mission. This is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from other applicants and help the recruiter get to know you more.

Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional

List Out The Relevant Job Titles

How to Treat Volunteer Experience on Your Resume

Do you know what work experience you have that is most relevant to the job position youre applying for?

If you dont, you need to do the background research.

Its important to meet the expectations of not only the employers but the applicant tracking system. Without including the relevant experience resume scanners are watching out for, you wont stand a chance.

For those of you without much work experience trying to make the most out of what youve got, its a different story.

This brings up two very common questions:

  • Should I include irrelevant work experience on my resume?
  • Should I put seminars or training on my resume?

Lets answer this in more detail.

Should I Include Irrelevant Work Experience On a Resume?

Generally, you should avoid including experiences that are irrelevant. However, if you dont have anything else to put in, then its better to include them than nothing.

Since some of you may have no work experience, you should use whatever you can to your advantage. The hiring managers are less likely to notice the gaps if you do this properly.

As long as you make it seem valuable by showing youre familiar with the work environment and responsibilities, thats what matters.

Alternatively, you should try to talk about how you developed skills such as:

Should I Put Seminars On My Resume?

However, there are ways to go about including your seminars or training.

For example, lets take a look at an engineer in training:

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Use Proper Resume Formatting

Even though volunteer work is unpaid, you need to provide a professional resume, formatted just like the one youd use for paid positions.

In case youve forgotten what a formal resume should include, heres a refresher on the five resume sections every pro resume should have:

A. Contact information section:

In your resume header, list your name, address, email address, phone number, and any relevant online profiles .

B. Introduction section:

Underneath your header, write a 23 sentence resume objective that details your qualifications and interest in the volunteer opportunity. Include your years of experience, and explain why your skills and goals make you an ideal candidate.

C. Experience section:

In the work experience section, offer bulleted lists of key achievements from current and past jobs. Tailor the information to the values and requirements of the organization to which youre applying. Prioritize volunteer experience, but if you dont have any, feel free to include relevant paid experience.

D. Education section:

Many volunteer positions require at least some education, so list the highest level of education youve completed, whether you have a GED or a doctorate. You can use your resumes education section to highlight any relevant courses youve taken.

E. Skills section:

Why Should You Add A Volunteering Experience

Adding volunteering experiences is a great way of showing your managerial and event planning experience. When adding a volunteering experience, try to mention the scale of the event that you were planning so as to show them that you had a substantial amount of responsibility. Adding volunteer work acts as an advantage for the candidate and makes his/her resume stand out from the others.

A recent LinkedIn study shows that more than 89% of the candidates have experienced volunteer work but only 49% add them to their resumes. They think that volunteering is not a legitimate form of work. If they have volunteered in activities that are outside from their field of work, then they wonât even bother to mention. Mentioning something that is outside your area of the study shows the commitment and character that you have in helping others.

On the other side, this does not mean that you should fill your resume with every good deed that you have done. Try to mention a few activities that you have felt proud in accomplishing and is worth mentioning to others.

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Discussing Your Intern Or Volunteer Work In An Interview

Mentioning intern or volunteer experience in an interview gives candidates an advantage. While talking about a previous job might cover specific skills you have, intern or volunteer experience says a lot about your personality and core values.

Most employers will be interested in finding out more about your character as well as your experience, so mentioning your commitment to social responsibility, your motivation, and go-getter attitude can be a huge advantage.

International travel is also a good indicator of maturity. For this reason, dont shy away from talking about your gap year volunteering or interning. Spending time overseas as a volunteer is more than just self-indulgent travel.

Instead of simply brushing over your time away, make sure youre clear that you werent just sitting around doing nothing during your year off. Talk about the benefits of a gap year and anything interesting that you did, or any lessons learnt. For example, interning or volunteering is usually an excellent way to develop strong people skills.

For anyone new to working, or trying to break into a different field, interning or volunteering is a credible substitute for paid work. Use your experience to show that you are a passionate and motivated individual, with both practical experience and well-established soft skills.

Question: Why are you a good fit for this role?

More common interview questions where you can mention your volunteer work include:

Academic Project Relevant To A Job

Volunteer Resume Sample &  Writing Guide

Including an academic project in a resume is straightforward. Include where the project took place, what class it was a part of, the title of the project, the date it was completed and a short summary of its purpose.

Example of how to list an academic project in a resume:Coral Springs University, Coral Springs, Florida Intro to Hospitality Course McDonalds Restaurant Analysis Group ProjectWorked within a team of 4 to analyze data on the revenue, size, and customer base of a popular fast-food chain in Florida. Created and presented findings during a course presentation. Was personally responsible for collecting data on McDonalds revenue and creating a PowerPoint presentation.

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Identify Which Resume Format Youre Going To Use

You need to pick one of the following resume formats:

  • Chronological resume format
  • Functional skills-based resume

Are you unsure of what might be best for you?

For most candidates, the reverse chronological resume format is most ideal because it lists your most recent work experience or job titles first. From there, you work your way backward.

Each format has a different approach. So, its important you know which is most ideal for you to use.

If you have less than 5 years of work experience, stick to the reverse-chronological format.

However, for seniors and for those whose work history goes a long time, the chronological resume format will work better. Its easier for the hiring manager to notice you have years of experience under your belt when the order starts years ago.

Theyll see youre a veteran whos highly experienced in your field of profession.

Youll also be respected by the fact youve been in the workforce more than the average candidate.

Should You Include Volunteer Work On A Resume

The short answer is yes volunteer work can absolutely belong on your resume. Volunteer experience shows that you have a genuine interest in a particular field or issue. It also shows initiative and the willingness to go above and beyond whats required, which employers love. If the volunteer work is in the same industry as the one youre applying to, even better!

If youre a student, recent graduate, or career changer, you may not have a lot of relevant paid experience. Volunteer work gives you the opportunity to highlight your skills, whether these are common transferrable skills or a specific skill set that your paid experience doesnt show.

Think outside the box when it comes to volunteer work. This could include working with startups and non-profits, or even unpaid internships. If it demonstrates relevant skills or experience, it belongs on your resume.

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List Of Relevant Skills Tools And Certifications

Your skills section should include relevant technical or hard skills and soft skills. You can include any tools youve mastered or certifications youve obtained as well.

The skills you include should be relevant to the job that interests you. For example, you may have excellent hard skills in different areas, but all of those skills may not be applicable to the job. If you are a skilled violinist, that may not be a good skill to put on your resume when applying for a job in construction.

You can learn what skills potential employers are looking for by reading the job description. As you read through job posts, write down keywords that match your skills and include them in your skills section as appropriate.

Your skills section might look something like this:

*Technical skills: Welding Electrical Systems Modern safety equipment Knowledge of major OSHA safety regulations OSHA Certification SMAW Welding Tools*

*Additional skills: Willingness to learn Attentive Organized Effective communicator Safety-conscious*

Related: The Best Job Skills to Make Your Resume Stand Out

How Many Years Of Experience Should You Include

What should you do with your resume if you donât have relevant experience?

How should you decide what to include? If you are uncertain how many years of experience to include on your resume, let the job posting be your guide. If a job requires 20 years of experience, for example, you’ll want to include more than 10 – 15 years of work history.

Include positions from earlier in your career that are relevant to the role you are applying for.

It’s acceptable to include 10 – 15 years of experience on your resume. In many industries, sharing experience that dates back more than 15 years just isn’t very helpful for hiring managers. It doesn’t support your candidacy to share an experience with tools and technology that are no longer in use.

Plus, when you have many years of experience, listing it all can flag you as an older job seeker to employers.

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Motivation And A Sense Of Achievement:

In an ideal sense, volunteering is about giving your own money, time and skill for the betterment of the society. Unlike other jobs, there is an option for choice present in volunteering. You do not necessarily have to take up a volunteering job because of the pressure from your peers and colleagues. Many volunteers having completed their volunteer tasks, expresses a sense of motivation, satisfaction. This also boosts your enthusiasm and desire to help others and do well for others.

Church Volunteer Work On Resume Example:

  • Was a Volunteer administrator for 5 years at Lewiston Baptist Church.
  • Managed 3 building projects each worth $20,000+ and successfully completed with 10% marginal profit.
  • Worked for Dodge County Animal Shelter as a volunteer board member
  • Responsible for organizing 3 IT projects for local Red Cross society
  • Volunteered for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter and actively participated for renovating 2 houses of risk families in Atlanta, GA

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